Is new geranium analysis the ‘final nail in the DMAA coffin’?


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Is new geranium analysis the ‘final nail in the DMAA coffin’?

Related tags Pelargonium graveolens

Controversial ingredient DMAA is not detectable in plant material and oil from geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), says a new analysis that has been hailed as the ‘final coffin nail in the long suffering DMAA debate’. 

In a ‘comprehensive’​ and ‘robust’​ analysis published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology​on Monday, scientists report that gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS-MS) analysis of geranium oils or young and mature, fresh and dried leaves and stems found no detectable levels of DMAA (1,3-Dimethylamylamine, also known as methyl hexaneamine (MHA), and several other names).

The scientists further confirmed the results using liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectrometry (high resolution LC–QTOF-MS).

Commercial products

The scientists then took the step of subjecting three commercial - but unnamed - supplements containing DMAA/MHA to the same analytical procedures, and concluded: “The dietary supplements that contained MHA as one of their ingredients (allegedly from geranium or geranium stems) contained large amounts of MHA.

“The amounts of MHA measured are incompatible with the use of reasonable amounts of ​P. graveolens extract or concentrate, suggesting that MHA was of synthetic origin.”

The new analysis was performed by scientists from ElSohly Laboratories, Inc. (ELI), Phyto Chemical Services, Inc. (PSI), the National Center for Natural Products Research, The University of Mississippi, and  the US Anti- Doping Agency (USADA).

The issue

MHA/DMAA has rarely been out of the headlines in recent months since FDA issued warning letters​ to 10 manufacturers and distributors of supplements containing DMAA.

There has been intense debate about whether DMAA, which was first manufactured synthetically by drug giant Eli Lily in the 1940s, is in fact a constituent of geranium.

According to a single analysis by Chinese researchers reportedly using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) techniques and published in the Journal of Guizhou Institute of Technology​ (1996, Vol. 25, pp. 82-85) – ‘The Ping Paper’ – DMAA is a constituent of geranium oil, but no other published analysis has reported its presence.

 ‘Very good work performed by a reputable team of scientists’

Commenting independently on the new analysis, James Neal-Kababick, Director of Flora Research Laboratories, told NutraIngredients-USA that the paper “comprehensively puts the final coffin nail in the long suffering DMAA debate​. 

“The researchers have comprehensively addressed the issues of analysis, accounted for numerous variables and once again, like so many other recent publications have shown using no less than three separate analytical approaches that methylhexaneamine is not found in any geranium plant material or essential oil tested by their group. 

“Unlike several other researchers, this group was sure to include authenticated plant materials in their study.  This is an often overlooked step in investigating natural products and is a critical step in assuring accurate data is reported. 

“Finally, the theoretical calculations based on various hypothetical DMAA yields reported indicates just how ridiculous the whole geranium sourced DMAA argument is. Considering how much material was utilized in the dietary supplements industry, we would be up to armpits in spent geranium marc if DMAA was actually being isolated from geranium sources at any of the claimed levels in publication including the Ping paper which I have long considered to be erroneous. 

“This is very good work performed by a reputable team of scientists which supports the position I have argued for so long: DMAA is not found in geranium or geranium essential oil as a naturally occurring product,”​ said Kababick.

Robust results

Mark Blumenthal, founder & executive director of the American Botanical Council (ABC), welcomed the publication of the paper, having already heard a preliminary presentation of the findings by Prof. Mahmoud ElShohly at the Annual Oxford Conference on the Science of Botanicals at Ole Miss in April.

“In this paper, the researchers employed several analytical methods to help ensure the appropriateness and robustness of their results,” ​said Blumenthal.  

“In addition, they analyzed various types of ​Pelargonium graveolens materials -- e.g., commercial essential oils, authenticated oils, and botanically vouchered pelargonium leaves in various states (fresh and dried), etc. -- in order to increase the confidence level of their results as they would apply to the current controversy regarding whether DMAA (aka MHA) is detectable as a naturally-occurring phytochemical in ​Pelargonium graveolens leaves, as some marketers have claimed for the past few years.

“This highly accurate and robust analysis found no detectable levels of DMAA (MHA), at the highly-sensitive level of 10 parts per billion.”

“ABC has stated repeatedly that we have not seen any credible, published scientific evidence that DMAA (MHA) is found or detectable in Pelargonium graveolens,” ​Blumenthal continued.

“The results of this new analysis further strengthens ABC's previously-stated position. It may be seen as another nail — a big one — in the coffin of the DMAA-from-plants claims controversy.”

A spokesperson for FDA told this website that the analysis had not weighed into FDA’s decision to take action.

Source: Journal of Analytical Toxicology
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1093/jat/bks055
“Pelargonium Oil and Methyl Hexaneamine (MHA): Analytical Approaches Supporting the Absence of MHA in Authenticated Pelargonium graveolens Plant Material and Oil”
Authors: M.A. ElSohly, W. Gul, K.M. ElSohly, T.P. Murphy, A. Weerasooriya, A.G. Chittiboyina, B. Avula, I. Khan, A. Eichner, L.D. Bowers

Related topics Research DMAA

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